Chris de Burgh: 'If you want to be successful, you need to learn how to fail; if you don't, you won't succeed'

Chris de Burgh: 'If you want to be successful, you need to learn how to fail; if you don't, you won't succeed'

The world-renowned musician, who is performing in Marbella on Saturday, has sold more than 45 million records during his 50-year career

Tony Bryant


Friday, 29 September 2023, 10:47


Chris de Burgh is one of the world's most commercially successful recording artists, although he is best known for one song. Born in Argentina in 1948 the musician and composer, is responsible for the million-selling hit record, The Lady in Red, a ballad that was a favourite of Lady Diana. Although the song, which was dedicated to his wife Diane, has become what he believes is his "calling card", De Burgh has recorded 27 albums and numerous hit singles in his 50-year career, for which he has received 100 gold and platinum discs.

His career kicked off in 1974 and he has continued to record and tour almost non-stop since then, clocking up more than 4,000 live performances and playing to audiences of more than 120,000 people in stadiums around the world.

Prior to his concert this weekend in Marbella, the 74-year-old musician spoke to SUR in English about his rise to stardom and a career that made him one of the top selling artists of the 20th century, although he says that he "knew nothing" about the music business when he began.

"I signed my first deal with A&M in 1974, although at the time I had no idea about the business, but I had an ambition and I had a dream. I come from a military background, so it was assumed I would go on to join the army, but instead, I joined the entertainment industry. It was exciting, but I realised back then the enormity of the struggle ahead. You must remember that this was before the internet, so to get your name out there was a lot harder. But I was young, energetic and full of dreams," he says.

De Burgh has performed in more than 130 countries, and he says that he "tailors the running order to suit each country".

"I have had the opportunity to perform all over the world, and the audiences react in different ways, although I cannot say specifically in which way. I think the Mediterranean countries are very active and responsive. The further north you go, the audience is a little cooler, but that does not mean they are not enjoying it. I can assure you that by the end of a concert everybody is always on their feet clapping and singing along," he explains.

The musician's commercial success did not happen overnight in the UK, although he had considerable success in other countries like Brazil and Canada, especially with the release of his second album, Spanish Train and Other Stories, from which his alternative Christmas song, A Spaceman Came a Travelling, was taken.

"If you reach for the stars, getting half way there isn't bad at all. My commercial success happened almost immediately, particularly in South America. My second album did exceptionally well in Canada, South Africa and some of the Baltic states, and not bad in England also, so I was already on a trajectory upwards. Of course, there were times when the struggle was hard, but I'm a very persistent person. One thing that must be remembered is that if you want to be successful, you need to learn how to fail: if you don't, you won't succeed," the multi-instrumentalist says.

The musician claims that many people are unaware of his catalogue of hit records, which have sold more than 45 million copies worldwide. These have included Don't Pay the Ferryman, taken from his sixth album, The Getaway, released in 1982; while the follow-up album, Man on the Line, produced the single High on Emotion, which became an international success, reaching the top 20 in several countries, including the UK, France and Switzerland.

However, it was to be the release of his 'signature song' in 1986 that was to launch him to world stardom. The Lady in Red, which was taken from the album, Into the Light, reached number one in several countries, including the UK, Canada, Belgium, Norway, and Ireland, the country he calls home.

"I remember saying to Paul Hardiman, my co-producer, that this could be a number one hit, even if it's in some obscure country on the other side of the world. Of course, I had no idea that it would become a number one hit in so many countries. It has sold millions of copies and is still one of the most played songs on the planet," he explains.

Lady Di myth

However, the musician points out that there is absolutely no truth in the myth that claims Lady Diana, with whom he struck up a friendship until her death in 1997, thought the song was about her.

"This is absolute fiction. Lots of things have been said about Lady Diana and this song. What was said, and correctly so, is that it was one of her favourites. When she went to a particular night club, she would ask for it to be played several times. I kept in touch and met her many times, and, of course, like everyone else, was totally devastated by her death," he explains.

To honour the memory of his friend, De Burgh composed a song entitled There's a New Star Up in Heaven Tonight. The song was released as a 100-copy limited edition, and was also included on the compilation albums, The Ultimate Collection (2000), and Now and Then (2009).

De Burgh continued to enjoy commercial success with Footsteps (2008), a collection of cover versions of artists who have inspired him throughout his career, including The Beatles and Bob Dylan. His latest project was The Legend of Robin Hood (2021), an album that included the single Legacy, for which he produced an animated music video for what was his 27th studio album.

The world-renowned artist will celebrate five decades in the music business by embarking on a tour of Europe in 2024, which, like his concert this weekend in Marbella, will include a selection of songs from his extensive catalogue of music.

"I am really looking forward to Marbella, although I think that people might come to the show thinking they only know one or two songs, which often happens. I am quite sure that they will be amazed and surprised by the show, and will go away high on emotion," he concludes.

Chris de Burgh concert

When: 30 September, 9pm

Where: Marbella Arena

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